Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Chance Encounters!

Like many within the NonStop community, I have received an invite to join a Webinar by Attunity - https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/686744769 and I thought it may be good to go behind the scenes and check it out!

The past couple of days have seen me rack up the miles. A quick dash back to Simi Valley was followed almost immediately by a lengthy trip Johannesburg, South Africa, for the annual SATUG event. Changes of scenery always trigger appreciation of new perspectives with me, and this trip proved to be no exception.

At first it had been difficult to convince Margo to accompany me on this trip, but eventually she succumbed. In the past few years, often something unusual and unexpected has transpired while we were away, and upon returning, Margo has been disappointed not to have participated. This trip, fortunately, didn’t disappoint – and the picture above is of Margo enjoying a rare opportunity to see a friendly Cheetah up close.

It was during my previous trip to the SATUG event where at the Emerald Casino and Resort, as part of the program, a trainer brought another Cheetah on stage and we all had photo opportunities standing alongside the fastest animal on the planet. For more detail on this encounter in 2009 at SATUG, follow the link to the post of February 24th, 2009, “Up close, and friendly ...” where I wrote of how surprised the event’s attendees were when the Cheetah did show for the occasion and where we had the opportunity for an up close encounter!

Margo had missed this chance and for the last couple of years, a framed copy of the picture used in that blog posting hung in her office.

At the CTUG user event, in Toronto, Canada, I wrote in the post of October 29th, 2010, “Reliable as the clock!” of how the architecture of NonStop in addressing the sum of many fallible components produced a better performing, more reliable platform, that remains “close to magic” even today! The photo used in that earlier blog on CTUG is a view of the exhibit area showing the booths of comForte and Attunity alongside one another.

I was representing comForte at the time, and it provided me with a chance encounter with fellow vendor, Attunity.

Representing Attunity was Itamar Ankorion, Director of Business Development and Marketing. As break-out sessions were being held, Ankorion and I found time to discuss technology and products, musing on where the HP NonStop server offerings were headed, and the prospect for growth across the user community.

Attunity has had a long association with HP NonStop and with the HP NonStop development organization. While the company’s origins were with Digital and open platforms, their expertise in data connectivity saw them port their ODBC and JDBC drivers to NonStop. In fact, they created the first SQL-based drivers for the NonStop platform.

Furthermore, Attunity had a ringside seat to the fortunes of both, Digital and Tandem, through the early days of the Compaq acquisitions and without pushing Ankorion too hard on this subject, there’s certainly much that can be said about the upside following the Compaq “merger” with HP! While Attunity’s products continue to pursue support for open platforms such as Linux, Windows, and Unix (LUW), support for NonStop and connectivity to critical NonStop subsystems, including Pathway, Enscribe and NonStop SQL, remain a priority for the company.

Chance encounters with Ankorion at the CTUG event may not be as exciting as meeting Cheetahs in South Africa. And the recent SATUG event fresher in our memories than last year’s CTUG – and yes, there will be further commentary on this latest SATUG event shortly.

However, the event in Canada brought me in touch with a key infrastructure provider. Attunity continues to be the source of a better, indeed a much faster, implementation of ODBC and JDBC drivers (products that HP highly recommends) and due to their appeal within the NonStop community Attunity continues to retain the NonStop platform on their product roadmaps.

Having subsequent discussions with users and with HP I learned more about the scope of Attunity’s product offerings, and while I make it a point in posts to this blog to track new products and technologies, it would be very remiss of me not to draw attention to solutions that may not be as well-known as others, yet are aligned with HP’s modernization initiatives.

“Our Data Federation software enables user to bring together data from across any mix of Enscribe, SQL/MP and other sources such as SQL Server and Oracle,” Ankorion explained. “HP sees how customers can benefit from such capabilities and included us in presentations at their recent shows (last year’s Las Vegas HPTF and the San Jose NonStop Summit), and had an Attunity demo running in the HP booth.”

In the white papers and articles I have written these past two years it seems I can never distance myself too far from the CIO mantra popular throughout the industry – do more with less! And there’s no escaping the reality that price plays a significant role in the selection of products. On this issue, Ankorion was as passionate as any HP executive I have talked to of late, and reiterated how keeping the costs low was imperative to his company.

“Attunity is the only vendor that enables their users to work with Enscribe as if it were a relational database without any requirements to re-host the data - a risky and costly undertaking by any measure you care to select. We are the only ones who enable the combination of data virtually (federation) and to have single views of the resultant data across NonStop and beyond. We have become the only native NonStop software that provides comprehensive, universal data connectivity, that lets you configure once and use your data anywhere, out of a single product.”

When chance encounters do occur, by happenstance mostly, and when it leaves you better infomred, as happened after meeting an Attunity representative, or when the result is a photograph you hang on the wall and smile each time you pass it, as was the case with mine and Margo’s encounters with Cheetahs - it makes traveling to user group events certainly worthwhile!

Next Tuesday, March 22nd, Attunity will be conducting a webinar, headlined as “Don’t Stop Being NonStop. Move Forward. Modernize.” A joint production involving Jim Johnson, Chairman of The Standish Group, well-known throughout the community, as well as Attunity’s Director of Technical Services, Richard Thomas. Registration can be found at:

https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/686744769

As I continue to look at vendors who may play a part in ensuring NonStop has a role in Cloud Computing and providing tools to integrate NonStop within the Cloud, Attunity will prove valuable to sections of the NonStop community concerned about the steps they need to take to have their business logic (accessing Enscribe and relying on Pathway) fully participating !

“Attunity has enjoyed its relationship with HP NED for many years and providing NonStop users with data connectivity and federation technologies has helped us cement this relationship within HP,” Ankorion acknowledged. “You could say we have had a front-row seat when it comes to the continuing dilemma users face today when interacting with multiple server platforms and where the business requires seamless aggregation of federated data from these platforms. The focus of our products in supporting these customers is positioning us well to deal with the systems in place today as well as for those of the future, many of which will evolve into private Clouds.”

Chance encounters may be easily dismissed and the promise they hold, forgotten all too quickly. I’m far from suggesting Attunity is a match for a Cheetah when it comes to personalities, but I am suggesting that when it comes to federation and where risks and costs are a great concern, perhaps they make a strong case for further consideration.

The NonStop user community has always sought innovative solutions and Attunity products show a lot of promise in this respect. And yes, I have it on good authority that they would clearly outperform the Cheetah after all!

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